Ed Hudgins

Barbara Branden Remembered

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In the picture, it appears she is trying to keep her hair out of your daughter's reach. :D

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I will always remember Barbara for her consideration. I was only a remote online acquaintance of hers from these e-lists, so I was surprised to get an email from her immediately after the 2006 military coup here in Thailand. She remembered that I had moved here, and she asked if we were all okay. That touched me.

-Ross Barlow.

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I did not know Barbara Branden. Her writing in the Objectivist journals and in these posting sites was careful, clear, and expressive. She took after Rand in that, and in some philosophy too.

Andrew, if I understand you -- and I'm not certain I do -- I see insuperable problems in your article. You write that "Non-Existence is." But this is a straight contradiction in terms, and a corruption of language. Non-existence is an absence; it is the absence of anything existing. but you are attempting to make it an existent in itself. You are attempting to make an absence into a "something."

Rand wrote: "To exist is to be something, as opposed to the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes." But you appear to be saying that nothing, in effect, is something-- which is an impossibility. An absence, by definition, cannot have attributes, it cannot be an entity, it cannot have a specific nature, it cannot be described. I note that you have not attempted to describe it, because to do so would instantly make you subject to the criticism that you are describing a "something."

Perhaps you are after something which you haven't yet made clear,or which I haven't understood, but whatever it is, it cannot in reason be the transformation of non-existence, of nothing, into existence.

Barbara

Touchstone:

"In The Act of Creation Arthur Koestler makes the case for a large measure of subconscious thought in creative endeavors."

"Ayn Rand champions the view that reason is the only means to knowledge."

Stephen, I think the disagreement is more apparent than real, and is a function of differing terminology. I agree with Koestler that reliance on the subconscious is crucial in the creative process -- but Rand also would agree. Especially in her talks on fiction-writing, she again and again made this point. But she, unlike Koestler, did not call it intuition.

After I mop up a few assignments I'm involved with, I'm planning to turn my lectures on thinking into a book for a general audience. In the original version, I did not discuss the creative process; I simply did not understand it well enough. But now I want to devote considerable space to it. There's still much I do not know, but of one thing I'm certain: that if, in the actual process of writing, (or painting, or composing music) one does not treat one's subconscious as if every word emanating from it is pure gold -- then there is no creative process.

Barbara

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R.I.P Barbara & thank you for writing The Passion of Ayn Rand-a gem of a book that I enjoyed immensely & read in one sitting.

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So sad. I will always remember Barbara fondly. She was a very sweet lady and always called me "Kat Dear." I remember back when Mike and I were first becoming an item online, I told Barbara we were getting engaged and her response was "Don't you think you should meet him first?" :smile:

Barbara has always been a great inspiration and Objectivist Living was the place online where she was always welcomed and respected. It has been awhile since we last met up with Barbara. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from our trip to Hollywood when we last visited with her at her home and went out to Hamburger Hamlet, but here are a few pics from the TAS conference where we spent a lot of time with Barbara. I remember the long talks in the hotel room and taking her around during the conference. We love you Barbara and miss you dearly. You have touched our lives and we are forever changed for the better. Rest in peace my friend.

BBKatandMSK1.jpg

at the reception

BBTOCLECTURE3-1.jpg

Barbara speaking at the summer seminar

BBKatMSK1.bmp

Barbara, Kat and Michael

BBandRoger1.bmp

Roger Bissell with Barbara

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I wish I'd have been able to have a conversation with her. That would've been interesting.

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Thus passes the Founding Generation.

It is always a bit shocking when someone you know about almost all your life dies, even a stranger.

The first time I laid eyes on Barbara in the flesh was at the Commodore Hotel in Cambridge MA, where Ayn Rand was giving a lecture (which I attended) This was in 1968 (before The Big Breakup). That is almost 46 years ago.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Same here Bob...

It was a few years earlier that I first saw her...I was quite young, 16-17, with my lady at my side, an older nurse from the mid-west, at an NBI lecture at the Empire State Building.

She appeared as the "ice princess" to my eye, an austere prescence on stage to the left of Nathan...

Looking back at that image, I had no clue as to what she was struggling with as the empire was collapsing around her.

Wonderful lady.

A...

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Same here Bob...

It was a few years earlier that I first saw her...I was quite young, 16-17, with my lady at my side, an older nurse from the mid-west, at an NBI lecture at the Empire State Building.

She appeared as the "ice princess" to my eye, an austere prescence on stage to the left of Nathan...

Looking back at that image, I had no clue as to what she was struggling with as the empire was collapsing around her.

Wonderful lady.

A...

When I saw her in the flesh, she was sitting by herself and looked quite tired. I assumed that setting up the lecture and making the arrangements had worn her down a bit. I now suspect there was more going on under the surface, but at that time I knew nothing about her personally or her personal life. She was blond and very elegant looking, I recall that. Actually at first I did not know it was Barbara but then I recalled her photo on one of the books about Objectivism that I had seen before at which point I recognized who she was. Since she appeared fatigued and somewhat preoccupied I did not go over to her and inquire as to whether she was B.B.

Many years later we exchanged views on this very forum.

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Same here Bob...

It was a few years earlier that I first saw her...I was quite young, 16-17, with my lady at my side, an older nurse from the mid-west, at an NBI lecture at the Empire State Building.

She appeared as the "ice princess" to my eye, an austere prescence on stage to the left of Nathan...

Looking back at that image, I had no clue as to what she was struggling with as the empire was collapsing around her.

Wonderful lady.

A...

When I saw her in the flesh, she was sitting by herself and looked quite tired. I assumed that setting up the lecture and making the arrangements had worn her down a bit. I now suspect there was more going on under the surface, but at that time I knew nothing about her personally or her personal life. She was blond and very elegant looking, I recall that. Actually at first I did not know it was Barbara but then I recalled her photo on one of the books about Objectivism that I had seen before at which point I recognized who she was. Since she appeared fatigued and somewhat preoccupied I did not go over to her and inquire as to whether she was B.B.

Many years later we exchanged views on this very forum.

A Sanskit saying etched in a temple in the Himalayas explains that:

"Coincidence, if traced far enough back becomes inevitable." Hineu

I have always been fascinated by this statement.

A...

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It's interesting and remarkable that Barbara Branden seemed to participate on this forum more than any other, toward the end. I consider her recent termination to be simply dreadful. The Grim Reaper is an evil and enemy beyond compare, and one which desperately needs to be defeated. I do think Barbara lived a long and rich life -- but her demise is still immensely sad. I don't think she was nearly as intellectually powerful or productive as Nathaniel Branden, but she often exceeded him by her far superior honesty. Their two speeches at the Cato Institute in Washington DC in 2007 are examples of this. I also think we have to note that Barbara radically helped liberate, normalize, and advance the Objectivist Movement with her 1986 biography of Ayn Rand. Without her, Nathaniel's bio probably would have come out somewhat later and been considerably less frank and accurate. And David Kelley's Institute for Objectivist Studies would likely have emerged substantially slower and weaker.

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It's interesting and remarkable that Barbara Branden seemed to participate on this forum more than any other, toward the end. I consider her recent termination to be simply dreadful. The Grim Reaper is an evil and enemy beyond compare, and one which desperately needs to be defeated. I do think Barbara lived a long and rich life -- but her demise is still immensely sad. I don't think she was nearly as intellectually powerful or productive as Nathaniel Branden, but she often exceeded him by her far superior honesty. Their two speeches at the Cato Institute in Washington DC in 2007 are examples of this. I also think we have to note that Barbara radically helped liberate, normalize, and advance the Objectivist Movement with her 1986 biography of Ayn Rand. Without her, Nathaniel's bio probably would have come out somewhat later and been considerably less frank and accurate. And David Kelley's Institute for Objectivist Studies would likely have emerged substantially slower and weaker.

Death is often sad, but it is inevitable. It is a manifestation of the second law of thermodynamics. Over time all systems become less and less organized including our bodies. Also death is a way of clearing out the old and opening niches for the new.

Overall human progress depends on death. However, it would not hurt if we could live somewhat longer than we do (in good health).

Immortality with no option to terminate at will is a curse, not a blessing. Immortality with a quit clause ( you are allowed to terminate as long as you do not endanger others in doing so) would be cool. Most people would reach a point where they are flat up against their own finiteness, so they would depart. We have a finite mental capacity and unconditional immortality would be at odds with that.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I agree with Ba'al's thoughts on mortality, and with Kyrel's assessment of Barbara's honesty and positive influence on the Objectivist movement.

Losing her is very sad, because we cannot enjoy her in person any more. But we have her legacy, and we can value it and acknowledge and honor her for it.

NB left an impressive mountain of accomplishments and is a forbidable beacon of brilliance. (It's hard to imagine writing that many books!) He is an inspiration to those who want to achieve in their own areas of interest. He wears some very big shoes.

But Barbara is an inspiration, too, in her own way and because of her own accomplishments. Kyrel said it well.

REB

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Here is a surprisingly unsnarky obituary seeing it is from the LA Times. I expected worse. It's not great, but it is fitting.

Barbara Branden dies at 84; Ayn Rand biographer championed her subject
By Elaine Woo
December 13, 2013
Los Angeles Times

From the article:

Barbara Branden, who wrote a definitive biography of philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand after a close association that ended in a disastrous tangle of relationships, died Wednesday in a rehabilitation center near her home in West Hollywood. She was 84.

Her death from a lung infection was confirmed by longtime friend Wallis Grover.

Branden was the author of "The Passion of Ayn Rand," a 1986 biography that earned wide praise for its insights into the writer best known for novels "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged."

btw - The LA Times used a screenshot of Barbara's picture from her website (see here):

Barbara-LATimes-Obituary.jpg

Michael

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Michael, Ms. Woo's L.A. Times obit is not *brutally* snarky, but it still falls considerably short of "fitting," at least by my standards.

First of all, to a very great extent, it is Rand-centered. Last I checked, she died over 30 years ago. The obit mentions how intelligent and intellectual Rand thought Barbara was, but where is there mention of Barbara's actual achievements that related to her intelligence? No mention at all of her lectures on efficient thinking, or her later insightful lectures on the psychology of the libertarian and Objectivist movements.

Second, and probably because of the first, it opportunistically takes a big swipe at Rand in re her poaching on Barbara's husband. Presumably this is the real purpose of the obit, to discredit Rand's ideas by flashing her improper behavior to the readers...making love to Barbara's husband "with their coats on" (Woo-Woo) being an example of "rational self-interest" in action (so to speak), and being admired by Mr. Bubble, Alan Greenspan, being an example of what happens to the economy when Rand's "laissez-faire capitalist" ideas are put into effect.

In sum, the obit focuses way too much on someone other than the ostensive subject, and in a luridly detracting way that serves the Times' ideological agenda. So much so that, every 2-3 paragraphs I had to pinch myself and remind myself that it was an obituary and whom it was about.

REB

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Roger,

I hear ya'.

And being under the impact of loss, I feel ya', too.

But this is the left-leaning LA Times, not an objective newspaper.

Within that context (for example, read some of the other crap about Rand's world from there), I think Barbara's obituary was quite tame and fitting (for their public). Meaning it would not be such outside of that orbit.

I was expecting a thorough smear job from those quarters.

Michael

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December 15, 2013 -- Author and speaker Barbara Branden died in Los Angeles on December 11, 2013, at the age of 84. In this video William R Thomas and Edward Hudgins discuss highlights of Barbara Branden's life as well as personal recollections about this fascinating woman.

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Ed,

I tried to fix the post above and made it worse.

Please let me know what you want to put there and I will get it to work.

btw - Cool little video about Barbara. I got choked up watching it.

Kat is going to be tickled you put us in at the end. Thanks...

:)

Michael

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